Penn Medicine News Blog Archive: Translational Research

On the Road with Data Science

By Karen Kreeger | September 28, 2016 | Comments Olson NPS Road trip map

Randy Olson, PhD, a senior data scientist with Penn’s Institute for Biomedical Informatics (IBI), started publishing optimized road trip maps -- a modern Trip Tik of sorts -- while still a graduate student at Michigan State University in 2014. They’ve remain a big hit on social media and in the... Read more

Of Mice and Muscles

By Karen Kreeger | August 10, 2016 | Comments Mouse

Penn has a long history of muscle research, much of which is relevant to Olympic-level athletes and their abilities. As the Rio Olympic Games approach, many armchair spectators of the Games may be wondering: How do those athletes endure their grueling runs, swims, and rides? And, on the flip side... Read more

Mysteries and Controversies of the Placenta

By Karen Kreeger | July 29, 2016 | Comments Pregnancy bump with heart John Hope

For an organ the female body makes and then sheds all within less than a year, the placenta has long held a place of reverence in human culture. But for scientists, the placenta still holds some mysteries and now some scholarly controversy. The organ, which supplies a developing baby oxygen... Read more

How Microbes are Informing the Fight Against Cancer

By Karen Kreeger | July 14, 2016 | Comments Wherry Immunity post NIAID healthy T cell

Like many therapies today, the so-called checkpoint inhibitor drugs that boost the immune system to fight cancer have an interesting back story on how they made it into the clinic. Hint: it didn’t all start in a cancer biology laboratory. A major part of the story began with microbiologists studying... Read more

Precision Medicine Takes Center Stage at Penn

By John Shea | June 27, 2016 | Comments image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2016-06-27/fe6541bd51c0497782ea2b0bda8d496d.png

What once was called “personalized medicine” at Penn used to be practiced primarily by individuals or small groups of researchers and clinicians drawn to its possibilities. But as the cover story in the Summer 2016 issue of Penn Medicine demonstrates, the ability to harness vast amounts of information and apply... Read more

Small But Mighty

By Karen Kreeger | April 1, 2016 | Comments Cells

There is a long-held tradition in fruitfly research for silly gene nomenclature. For example, take the inspiration from mutations that affect fruit fly testes. The so-called “defenders of DNA,” the Piwi (for P-element induced wimpy testis) family of proteins, got its incongruous name from the researcher who discovered the gene... Read more

Too Much? Too Little? The Goldilocks Story of Iron in the Eye

By Karen Kreeger | March 9, 2016 | Comments Retina

The body needs just the right amount of iron, otherwise all manner of havoc happens. Too little iron and the body malfunctions because it carries oxygen to all the cells. Roughly two-thirds of the mineral resides in hemoglobin, the oxygen-transporting protein in red blood cells. And if the body doesn’t... Read more

Bad Breakdown: How Essential Fatty Acids Put Up With Free Radicals

By Karen Kreeger | February 10, 2016 | Comments Radical

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids play an important, yet complicated, role in brain growth and disease, more and more research is showing. These are the same “essential” fats touted in ads for everything from baby formula to supplements to protein bars. They’re essential because the body needs them for maintaining... Read more

Repairing Injured Kidneys Through Regeneration

By Karen Kreeger | January 15, 2016 | Comments Kidney

The capacity to regenerate has mythic qualities for most of us, but the human body has very little ability to regrow body parts on its own compared to say, flatworms that can regenerate a whole new self from small pieces, or some reptiles and amphibians that can regrow lost tails... Read more

What’s the Big Idea? Cancer Leaders to Talk Precision Medicine

By Steve Graff | January 6, 2016 | Comments Lab

In a few weeks, top minds in the city and state will gather to discuss one of the hottest cancer topics in healthcare: precision medicine. It’s a term many have heard, seen on a billboard, or even experienced, but what does the omnipresent buzzword really mean today—and for tomorrow? For... Read more

Copper: A ‘Novel Vulnerability’ in Fighting Cancer

By Karen Kreeger | December 16, 2015 | Comments Copper

I looked at the ornaments on the desk. Everything standard and all copper. A copper lamp, pen set and pencil tray, a glass and copper ashtray with a copper elephant on the rim, a copper letter opener, a copper thermos bottle on a copper tray, copper corners on the blotter... Read more

The Family and Lab Behind a ‘Precious’ Donation to Basic Research

By Karen Kreeger | November 20, 2015 | Comments image from http://s3.amazonaws.com/hires.aviary.com/k/mr6i2hifk4wxt1dp/15112017/8640e83a-ae21-4b3c-83ea-6dca3b0c3d42.png

In 2009, Sarah Gray found out during a routine ultrasound that one of the twins she was carrying had anencephaly, a fatal genetic condition where the brain and skull don't fully develop. After his death, she and her husband donated Thomas’s organs and tissues and since then, have been tracking how they've been used. Read more

Looking to Ancient Symbionts for New Cancer Therapies

By Karen Kreeger | October 26, 2015 | Comments Mitochondria Courtesy NICHD

Talk about a eureka moment: Andrea Facciabene, PhD, a research assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, was taking a walk one day on the Penn campus when it hit him: What do we really need to make immunotherapy a reality for everybody? The answer, he thought, was in the mitochondria,... Read more

Translation Starts at the Bench for Penn Fellow (VIDEO)

By Karen Kreeger | October 19, 2015 | Comments Pipette Fume Hood PP 2015

For postdoctoral fellow Kristen Pauken, PhD, what “gets her up in the morning” are the cancer immunology experiments she is conducting alongside her mentor John Wherry, PhD, director of the Institute for Immunology at the Perelman School of Medicine. His lab concentrates on getting a better handle on what makes... Read more

How Entropy Affects Drug Design

By Karen Kreeger | September 30, 2015 | Comments Dutton Entropic Boltzman_PLD_crop

Entropic Botzmann by Les Dutton, PhD How could entropy, the basis of the second law of thermodynamics -- or simply put, the measure of disorder in a system -- have anything to do with medicine, a seemingly orderly discipline? Ask Kim Sharp, PhD, an associate professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics,... Read more

Using Summertime for a Head Start in the Lab

By Karen Kreeger | August 5, 2015 | Comments Summer in the lab pic Aug 2015

Back in 2013, the Penn Medicine News Blog covered then rising high school junior Kareema Dixon, who started her science career, in part, by participating in the BioEYES program developed by Jamie Shuda, EdD, director of Life Science Outreach at the Institute for Regenerative Medicine (IRM). Dixon continued with her... Read more

What's Eating the Erythrocytes?

By Karen Kreeger | July 8, 2015 | Comments Red Blood Cell Andrew Mason

In the rare, life-threatening disease called paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH), patients are stricken with chronic anemia and blood clots, when the oldest part of the immune system -- known as complement -- turns against its own red blood cells, or erythrocytes. Complement is a network of more than 50 proteins... Read more

A “Hardy Perennial” View of Conflict of Interest

By Karen Kreeger | June 12, 2015 | Comments Conflict of interest E Pluribus

Perennials and hope spring eternal. And so it seems does the debate over conflict of interest in academia. The latest deliberations took place last week in the pages of two of the world’s most prestigious medical journals. Three former New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) editors commented in a British... Read more

New Research on Fungus Aims to Help Asthma Sufferers

By Lee-Ann Donegan | May 13, 2015 | Comments

“Asthma is a chronic disease without a cure,” said Reynold Panettieri, MD, the Robert L. Mayock and David A. Cooper Professor of Medicine in the Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care division and chief of the Asthma Section in Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine. But new fungal research from him and... Read more

The New Avengers: Lab-Coated Heroes Honored for Behind-the-Scenes Contributions

By Karen Kreeger | May 5, 2015 | Comments Lab week 2015 logo

Late last month Penn Medicine observed the fortieth Medical Laboratory Professionals Week, a time to recognize the hard work and dedication of the 600-plus lab professionals in more than 30 laboratories across the health system. Read more

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